Posts Tagged "employee"

Keeping Your Cool in Salary Negotiations

One big problem people have when negotiating for a job or a raise is that they get in their own way. Negotiating unleashes a brew of emotions – fear of rejection, a lack of confidence, doubts – that can sabotage them. The British have coined a word for this type of anxiety: collywobbles.

Moshe Cohen, author of “Collywobbles: How to Negotiate When Negotiations Make You Nervous,” consults with companies and individuals on leadership and negotiation strategies. But his idea for the book came out of the graduate classes on negotiation he teaches at Boston University. Cohen realized that even when students are fully prepared for a negotiation, they will choke in the moment. He agreed to share some of his insights in the book, which examines negotiating from the perspective of someone who has anxiety. He recently published his second book inspired by the pandemic lockdown: “Optimism is a Choice and Other Timeless Ideas.”

What are collywobbles and how do they manifest in salary negotiations?  

Collywobbles is a British term that means butterflies in your stomach. And people get nervous when they go to negotiate. I wrote “Collywobbles” for a student who works full-time and negotiates every day for her boss but can’t negotiate with her boss because she gets too nervous. She works really hard and never gets that raise or promotion because she never asks for it. The question I answer in my book is: how does she overcome that?

Are women worse negotiators than men and why?

Yes, for two reasons. One is socialization. Generally, I think women are brought up to be more aware of and care about relationships, and they fear that if they advocate for themselves they’re going to damage relationships. Men are socialized to be much more oblivious to those things and freer to ask for things. Men will do things that might damage the relationship but aren’t aware they’re doing it.

The second thing is society’s expectations. If women are strong self-advocates, very often there’s a backlash and they get punished for it in ways that men don’t. If I, as a man, am pushy at my job, I’m seen as a go-getter. If you’re pushy, you’re seen as a bitch. The combination of how society socializes women and how it responds to women is a really intimidating factor.

How about people of color?

I’m certainly not an expert on that but here’s what I’ve observed. One exercise I give my students is that they have to go out and ask for stuff until 10 people say no. They can go to stores and ask for discounts – anything. An African student came to me and said, “How can I ask for a discount when the second I walk into a store employees start following me around?” Once again, context is important. Do people negotiate differently when they’re in a context where they feel comfortable and less likely to incur a backlash? African students negotiate very differently here than they do in Africa where they may have a societal status that entitles them to ask for more. When they’re in this country, they’re just seen as a minority. …
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Viewing Retirement Saving as a Fresh Start

Employers have learned over the years that understanding employee psychology is critical to getting them to save for retirement. Researchers have landed on a novel idea along those lines: explain to employees that they have an opportunity to save in a 401(k) or increase their 401(k) saving on a future date that represents a fresh start, such as a birthday or the first day of spring.

In a 2021 study in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, this “fresh start framing” during an experiment increased the percentage of workers who agreed to contribute to their employer retirement plans and increased the share of pay contributed to the plans. In both cases, the increases were well in excess of 25 percent in a comparison with employees who were presented with less salient future dates.

Add this technique to a well-established one that growing numbers of employers already use with some success: automatically enrolling workers in the 401(k), and sometimes automatically increasing their contributions, which research has shown can work better than waiting for them to do it themselves. Most of the retirement plans in the study did not have any automatic features, and the fresh start dates proved another way to elicit better saving habits – voluntarily.

The option to delay a commitment to save is based on an assumption that people are more willing to make a change that involves sacrifice if it can be postponed – smokers often try to quit this way. One theory for using a fresh start date is that it imbues a feeling of optimism, giving employees permission to set aside past failures. …Learn More

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Disability Accommodations Help Workers

This big number may surprise you: one out of every four adults feels they need some type of accommodation by an employer for a medical condition or disability.

This finding comes from a study in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management that established a very inclusive standard for determining the need for employer accommodations. The researchers concluded, after following individuals 18 and older in their study for four years, that their employment rate was higher when they received support.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires employers to provide workers and job applicants with a “reasonable accommodation.” But disabling conditions aren’t always visible, and many people never ask employers for assistance. In addition, some employers – particularly small firms – may see accommodations as too costly.

In their 2014 supplement to a periodic RAND survey, the researchers found that 23 percent of workers and unemployed individuals said “yes” to a broad question designed to get a more accurate estimate of need than standard surveys: Does, or would, a special accommodation for your health “make it easier for you to work?”

This group was made up of workers who were already receiving an accommodation, as well as employed and unemployed individuals who felt they could use such support.

Workplace accommodations range from small things like buying a standing desk for an office worker with acute sciatica to reassigning a warehouse worker to a less physical task after he develops back problems. About half of the people who said an accommodation would help them received one – and the benefits were clear.

Between 2015 and 2018, their employment rate held steady at around 85 percent. But the rate for the people who weren’t being accommodated fell sharply, from 92 percent to 72 percent, according to the study funded by the Social Security Administration. …Learn More

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Workshops Teach Salary Negotiation

At a recent workshop in downtown Boston, the mostly female audience was asked whether their anxiety level goes up when they ask for a raise or negotiate a salary for a new job.

Hands shot up, and the room erupted in boisterous conversation. “I’m worried about being perceived as being greedy,” volunteered one woman. Another said that her employer told her she earns less than her coworkers because she’s only in her 20s – “even though I’m doing exactly the same things!”

Workshop facilitator Lauren Creamer explained that many women find it difficult to ask for a raise, because they face a double standard that treats them differently than men. “Women are expected to behave a certain way. They’re either nice or competitive and aggressive,” she said. Asking for a raise can be perceived as too aggressive.

Over a lifetime, lower pay for the same jobs their male coworkers are doing put millions of women behind the 8 ball when they’re trying to pay back student loans, buy a house, and save for retirement.

To help them overcome their fear of asking for a raise, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) is introducing salary negotiation workshops around the country. “Pay equity – and financial security – is one of our major goals right now,” said AAUW’s Alexandra Howley, who coordinates the Massachusetts program with the Boston mayor’s office and the state government.

In AAUW’s workshop in Boston last month, Creamer and Robbin Beauchamp gave advice in four areas to the women – and three men – attending.

Know Your Value

  • Before negotiating a raise, be clear on the unique benefits you bring to your workplace – effective facilitator, top salesperson, organizer, etc.
  • When applying for a new position, tailor your skills and experience to fit the job description in a way that highlights your value to a prospective employer.

Know Your Target SalaryLearn More